Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Review: Entrekin

Title: Entrekin
Author: Will Entrekin
Price: $12.79 or Free Download PDF
Genre: Literature: contemporary, eclectic, philosophical, short stories, and poetry
Point of Sale: Lulu

This book has been around for a while, has run the gamut, if you will, or maybe that should be gauntlet in this case. Opinions vary greatly, not just about the book but about the author as well. I do think Mr. Entrekin’s ideals were in the right place when he embarked upon this writing endeavour, but I believe that some of the promotional choices he made along the way ended up doing him a great disservice. So, in order not to have my opinion influenced too much by the static, I deliberately waited a while before reading the material. My assessment will remain related to the book’s literary value from this point forward. All work should have literary value even if it’s genre. That, of course, is my opinion as a reader, not a writer.

First things first -- the cover and title desperately need work. I have always been of the belief that a cover should be an artistic representation of the work. In this case, the cover is neither artistic nor representative of anything. The impression it leaves on the palette is a distasteful one, as it seems a bit suggestive of narcissism, even more so since the matter page contains the statement: “I am an attention whore.” Point taken. But the fact remains: book covers sell books, and a lacklustre cover does nothing to impress me into reading what’s between them.

Moving on to more literary matters, in the first story, awkward sentence structure and grammatical and mechanical issues slam into you with the first paragraph. However, there is a spark of promise. As you muddle through this collection of flaw riddled stories, that promise does glitter across the page here and there, that is, if you are patient enough to wait for it. This line really sums up the entire book:

“The words were out of my mouth before I considered them, before I’d thought them; all I had the chance to do was feel them, but I did that as hard as I could.”

Yup, that line is one of many brilliant and insightful lines that litter this book, and that line pretty much sums up the entire endeavour as well. The author obviously felt the words, deeply, but the issue with this book lies with articulation and aesthetics -- flow and impact -- which were not fully considered and therefore not fully realized. The stories are there and they are worthwhile stories -- sweet, deeply moving -- even though they don’t push any boundaries. The depth of emotion is certainly there, and there are moments of truly elegant and poetic writing. Too bad those moments get overshadowed by all the other muddled mess of words. Contemporary or “Rock Star” diction really isn’t my cup of tea either, but, it fits with the innocence and emotional intensity of the stories, and that is not the issue. This book could really be something special. It’s very heartfelt and revealing, a tad swooning, and almost wounding. What it needs is polish, another of many full rewrites, and a good serious grammatical and structural editing. And Mr. Entrekin has all the time in the world to do that, if he chooses to. That’s the beauty of a self-publishing endeavour. Critical commentary can be taken into account and the work can be improved without any dire consequences. I know this all too well…there is always reason to re-evaluate the work. And as we mature as writers, re-evaluation is a necessary evil.

For me, this book could have easily been at least an 8. If the author had pushed a few boundaries, I would say a 9 out of 10. Conceptually and in tone and texture the book warrants a higher score; however, the mechanics are seriously flawed, the sentences, for the most part, lack the true literary finesse such subject matter deserves, and in many cases they are not grammatically sound, making the read a bit frustrating. The good thing is, mechanics are easy enough to fix as long as the author hasn’t lost his connection to words – I think Mr. Entrekin might have rushed to print too quickly. Most self-published authors have spite themselves in this way at least once, myself included. I have a motto now, wait a year, reject all opinion of the work -- good or bad — and then re-write the whole damn thing from your gut, and then do it again.

Focusing purely on content for a moment, the collection of stories – confessions and philosophical meanderings really, not stories – are all relatable, for it’s pretty much standard fare and nothing groundbreaking: dating, broken hearts, pining, unrequited love, literary agents, rejections, the world ending, sperm donation. (Well, I can’t relate to that one in theory, but anyone can relate to the human struggle behind the story. How would it feel to look at your flaws right down to the genetic level? Not to mention then receiving a standard rejection form letter. Ah, the irony.) Addicted to Praise, Imperfect Thirst, and Raven Noir are the only prose pieces that present storylines one is more apt to expect from mainstream fiction.

As far as the writing style, the tactic is informal conversational story telling, and the innocence and the gentle melancholy is heart-warming. Our protagonists are love-struck, uncomfortable at times, arrogant at times, and at times so inward and reflective that it makes you want to weep. Even the bit of erotica isn’t too terribly shabby. Engaging and arousing, it is truly evocative -- evocative of tenderness not pornography! I did like the poetry as well, but I am not really versed in poetry, the mechanical aspects of it that is. I read a great deal of poetry actually, from Artaud to Rimbaud and beyond, so I just know what I like and most of it I did like. “ This Ain’t Wonderland” was truly wonderful, especially for those readers who understand the profundity of that, not so much for children, children’s story.

If I had to pick a favourite story, which wouldn’t be any trouble at all with all the wit and wisdom, it would be “Wandering”. I do so love a metaphor, and even though I am a literary snob and a hard-ass, I am a hopelessly lost soul of the romantic variety. For those who share my predilection for deep emotionally devastating love, many of the stories in this book hit those tender notes full on. But seriously now, “Addicted to Praise” and “Raven Noir” are actually my real favourites, being a tried and true Poe fan myself, and it was a little reprieve from the autobiographical themes of the other stories, not to mention the diction was more to my taste.

All I can say is that I sincerely hope this author doesn’t drop his pen before the work becomes what it should be, what it could be. I can see a bright and breezy glimmer of talent here. This author has passion, make no mistake about that. So I have to rate this book as a very promising effort, for a still very rough draft. And it’s way too early to make comment on the debut novel preview at the end, so I won't.


Cheryl Anne Gardner is a retired writer of dark, often disturbing, literary novellas with romantic/erotic undertones. She is an avid reader and an independent reviewer with Podpeople blogspot and Amazon where she blogs regularly on AmazonConnect. She is an advocate for independent film, music, and books, and when at all possible, prefers to read and review out of the mainstream Indie published works, foreign translations, and a bit of philosophy. She lives with her husband and two ferrets on the East Coast, USA